Does your dog open his eyes when he seems to be in a deep sleep? Impressive, this phenomenon is most often not serious. No matter how old they are, your four-legged friend will spend many hours sleeping in the course of a day. His sleeping habits are different from ours. However, as with humans, rest plays an essential role in the body. Are you wondering if the fact that your pooch sleeps with his eyes open could have consequences for his health? Rest assured, this is a common situation. Here are our explanations.
Sleeping habits to know in dogs
To better understand why dogs sometimes sleep with their eyes open, let’s first take a look at their sleep patterns and attitudes.
The different phases of sleep for a dog
The dog’s sleep pattern consists of several phases. So, when your dog sleeps during the day or at night, each cycle will be divided into two stages:
- Slow deep sleep;
- REM sleep.
During the first phase, your dog recovers the energy expended during his day. He rests calmly and his muscles gradually relax. During the phase of paradoxical sleep, he sleeps soundly and his brain activity intensifies. Like us, the dog dreams and assimilates everything he has experienced during his waking periods.
The sleep needs dogs vary according to their age and pace of life. A puppy will need to sleep 18-20 hours a day and an adult dog will rest 10-15 hours daily.
What different attitudes can your dog take when sleeping?
After a short phase of falling asleep, during which he seeks a comfortable position, your pet enters slow deep sleep phase. His heartbeat slows down and he breathes calmly. Your doggie seems at ease. Then it enters a paradoxical sleep. He then appears more agitated, moves his paws and his breathing quickens. This stage is also called “the REM phase” (rapid eye movement), because their eyes may make rapid, involuntary movements.
Why do dogs sometimes sleep with their eyes open?
You often notice that your dog sleeps with his eyes open ? You think he is awake, but he does not react to your calls or your gestures? Several reasons can explain this phenomenon.
Dogs, especially some breeds, have the ability to sleep with their eyes open. They inherit this ability from their ancestors who lived in the wild. We associate this ability with the animal’s survival instinct. Indeed, by keeping his eyes open, he monitors his environment even when he is resting. He thus watches for the occurrence of a possible danger, so as to jump quickly if necessary. In addition, it gives the impression to its predators that it is awake.
We notice this phenomenon in certain breeds of hunting dogs. But other small dogs like the bulldog can keep their eyes open while sleeping. Only a second translucent internal eyelid protects the eye of these animals when they sleep.
Possible problems to watch out for when a dog is sleeping
In the majority of cases, it is safe for a dog to keep his eyes open while sleeping. This happens when he performs involuntary spasms or contractions. He fidgets in his sleep, wiggles his paws and sometimes utters little moans; all this in an uncontrolled manner.
However, these same symptoms can also occur during a epileptic crisis. How to distinguish these two types of neurological disorders? You just have to watch his gaze and general behavior.
During a crisis of contractions, your dog’s eyes will stay open or half-open. His eyelids may twitch slightly. Upon awakening, he will appear to be in great shape and will not show any particular signs.
The signs that evoke the epileptic seizure are different:
- The gaze remains fixed;
- The eyes appear bulging;
- The dog makes sudden and sometimes violent movements;
- He can drool and breathe loudly.
Waking up will be more difficult than during an attack of spasms. The dog will appear lost and will have difficulty walking.
How to react when my dog sleeps with his eyes open?
As we explained to you, a dog who sleeps with his eyes open shouldn’t worry you too much. Therefore, the best thing to do will be to let him rest. No need to wake him up during a spasm attack, your doggie is just dreaming! If he also rolls his eyes, it means he feels perfectly relaxed.
During an epileptic seizure, the best course of action is to protect your pet injuries caused by his uncontrolled movements. Move nearby objects away and clear the space so that it doesn’t bump into.
The quality of your dog’s sleep affects their health and development. Therefore, let him sleep peacefully and don’t worry when he keeps his eyes open. If in doubt, seek advice from your veterinarian.